Personal Transformation Practices
Do you strive to be a leader in your life? To successfully lead others with authenticity, you must first acquire the tools to lead yourself. Self-mastery and self- management are fast becoming valued attributes in our outer-directed society. How do you manage your thoughts and practice mindfulness from moment to moment?
Michele Hébert, an internationally recognized Raja Yoga guide, meditation teacher, speaker, coach and owner of InnerForce Leadership (www.michele hebert.com), shares inner leadership tools to assist you on the journey of mastery. These tools can help you stay centered and focused despite your outer circumstances.
The first step on the path of transformation is taking a good look at where you are in your life and where you want to be. How are you showing up in the world? What are your goals? What values do you consider important in your life? Are your professional goals aligned with these values?
And the ultimate question: What is your life purpose?
Keeping a daily journal is a powerful tool for reflection and a way of identifying and weeding out mental and emotional habits that do not serve your highest ideals.
To manage your thoughts, you first need to be aware of what you are thinking about. You are creating your life out of the quality of your thoughts. Dispassionately peer into your mind and examine them. See what’s working for you and what’s working against you. Remember, every thought you think is having an effect on the cells of your body.
- Become aware of your habitual thoughts and learn to immediately change weak or negative thoughts into gratitude thoughts. Positive psychology research indicates that thinking three to five gratitude thoughts a day improves the immune system and boosts happiness.
- Repeat a mantra.
means “control of mind” in Sanskrit, and mantra repetition is another effective tool for shifting negative thinking. The simple words “peace, harmony, well-being” is one mantra that is a powerful replacement for negative or stressful states of mind. It is physiologically impossible to be in a state of stress and a state of peace at the same time. In repeating this phrase, you are choosing to be in a peaceful state of mind.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation has been practiced throughout the ages in many cultures. It offers you a way to connect with your inner core, the essence of your being. Through the cultivation of attention, you can turn your focus inward to experience a natural state of pure peace and joy.
Research studies on meditation in the last decade have reported a tremendous number of wellness benefits, including enhanced functioning of the immune system, emotional stability, reductions in anxiety and depression, improved decision making, sharpened concentration and focus, increased ability to create new neural pathways in the brain, and the opportunity to cultivate a greater capacity for compassion and universal love.
Regular meditation deepens your capacity for letting go of your individual sense of self and softens the self-limiting boundary that you construct between self and the world around you.
Even with meditation you may sometimes still be triggered. When you are provoked into an emotional reaction, you become disconnected from your center and move into a reactive state rather than responding mindfully to the situation. One way to counteract a trigger moment is to step back immediately and give the situation some space.
Breath is one of the most powerful tools for shifting internal states.Yoga teaches that emotional reactions and habitual thought patterns are interconnected with habits of breathing. Breathing practices from mind-body modalities such as yoga, tai chi and Pilates can help you breathe in new ways
and break through belief systems that hold you back from expressing your true potential. One simple but powerful yogic breath is the diaphragmatic breath.
To practice diaphragmatic breathing, sit with an erect spine, place your left hand on the upper chest, and put your right hand on the diaphragm. As you slowly breathe in, try to use only the diaphragm, so the right hand rises on the inhalation, while the left hand remains stationary. Continue for 2ÔÇô3 minutes. The diaphragmatic breath has a beneficial effect on the vagus nerve, calming the heart rate and the parasympathetic nervous system and triggering the relaxation response.